In the last couple of years the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section of bookstores has gained a new sub-genre that at times irritates me to no end. Urban Fantasy, which basically boils down to trashy romance with supernatural themes. As explained in an earlier review I have an unnatural need to know how a story ends, making Urban Fantasy a landmine for me. Now, not every urban fantasy is going to have “his rock hard erection” or “he thrust himself inside of me” within its pages. I have found some that are more focused on the actual interactions between the characters, and growth. ‘A Brush of Darkness’ does not fall into the latter percentage of Urban Fantasy, and like a lot of Urban Fantasy all the male characters are poorly written and are either idiots who just want to get laid or idiots who are assholes.
It’s my fault really, when I’m not familiar with an author I read the description on the back cover and compare it to the quality of the cover art. Quality of cover art takes in not only how cool the artwork is, but theme, actual design and if it seems to mesh well with the description. I have read books that have covers that are completely unrelated to the story, just because there is a dragon on the cover doesn’t always mean you will deal with one while reading. If the cover art meshes with the description on the back it usually means that people actually care about the contents and believe the book could sell. Bad cover art or art that has no connection means the individual who picked it didn’t read the book and the publisher isn’t putting much behind the author.
The description and artwork for “A Brush of Darkness” are average, what got me was the fact they seemed to mesh very well and the female on the cover was wearing an amulet that seemed important. So I bought a copy and it sat in my to read pile for over a year, until I grabbed it one morning while in a hurry to get to work with only 50 pages left in the book I was reading at the time (One of the Nicolas Flamel novels). I didn’t really remember my reasons for buying it as I cracked the pages for the first time, after reading the first hundred pages I was hoping that it didn’t have a sequel. There are 3 books in the series if you wished to know.
The actual plot of the book boils down to there being three types of supernaturals, demons, angels and fae all of whom make contracts with humans who they call their touchstones making it easier for them to enter our world. The main character of the novel Abby, is the touchstone of Moira – a fae who is also the Protectorate, which is some big deal that the author doesn’t explain very well. Turns out Moira went missing about 4 months ago and Abby decided this wasn’t a big deal and in turn didn’t tell anyone until an Incubus walks into her life looking for his missing sister. Well between her badmouthing the Incubus every chance she gets, staring at his ass and making poor choices her ragtag team save the day and she gets laid. She’s also a very special type of touchstone and a dreamer which means she has abilities no one knew about. That amulet that I thought was interesting only shows up at the end of the book after everything important has happened.
So we come to that point again, I wasn’t a big fan of the book giving it a “Well that’s over” which I wish was true, but there are two more books in the series. I checked to make sure and it looks like the amulet plays a bigger role in both of those books. The author is bad at writing male characters, as many male authors are unable to create realistic female characters. The story had some promise, but, every time it almost broke through and became fun something stupid happened. The author kept trying to add in too much too soon and should have just gotten out of her own way and let it happen organically.
The villains were poorly written and their reasons for doing the things they did were poorly thought out. There was little to no emotional connection with the characters or between them. They all seemed forced to have relationships with each other, and even when they were supposed to be in love you didn’t feel it. “A Brush of Darkness” is just another Urban Fantasy in a crowded market, nothing stands out and the only joy I had reading it was reading it and thinking to myself done.
I really enjoy the Otherworld series by Yasmine Galenorn, I came across it at a Goodwill and picked up the 4th book in the series for a dollar. After reading it I found out there were three books ahead of it and many after, a total of 15 have been released to date with a few short stories here and there. Now, you’re not going to find this series in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section, you have to brave the world of romance novels to find it but this is all Urban Fantasy and in my opinion Ms. Galenorn is the best in the genre. The series has its erotic moments and the author isn’t going to hold back, but it’s the rest of the story that really makes it worth the read. If you want to go on an adventure to save the world from the forces of darkness with three bad ass sisters check out the Otherworld books by Yasmine Galenorn.